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Long awaited success

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I haven't been on here in a long time & thought I would post an update to give hope to those who have problems after an ACDF. I am now just over 6 months post op & am finally STARTING to get back to normal.

For those who don't know my story, I will give a brief history to add to what is in my signature. I initially had a great recovery after my surgery. My pain had never been disabling pre op & my surgery was mostly done to prevent further damage & paralysis. I went back to work at 8 weeks & had a huge setback. My pain was worse than it ever had been & the numbness in my extremities returned. I had to go on medical leave again for another 2 months & returned to work for the second time in late July even though I was still having quite a bit of pain. My boss was facing the possibility of having to replace me & even though I could get another position with my employer, I loved my job & did not want to change.

Since a repeat MRI did not show anything conclusive, I was referred by my surgeon to a pain mgmt doc who scheduled me for cervical ESIs. I had 2 done a month apart with no relief. The injections themselves were done with sedation & were very easy. I had no complications, they just didn't work. I was getting a little depressed because I was having to take pain meds 2-3 times/day & they only took the edge off but because I am a nurse, I couldn't take anything stronger that would impair my ability to work. I was only working part time & our unit wasn't crazy busy but I would still be in tears driving home from work. My days off were spent lying on the couch to avoid making my pain worse. The pain mgmt doc said he would not do a third ESI since the first 2 did not help & he scheduled me for facet joint injections. Again, they were done under sedation. He did three levels (I think!) & the first 3-4 days I had no relief so I was getting discouraged again. After that I my pain started to improve. I had the injections last Tuesday & since Sat/Sun I am definitely doing better. I have had some pain & I think I have taken 2-3 pain pills since Saturday. Most of the time if I have some pain I try to relax for a few minutes & it gradually goes away. It is a HUGE improvement over the way I felt last week & I am very thankful.

Sorry for the long post but I wanted to share my story. I am very independent & really thought I might have been facing disability. I was very discouraged since my surgery went fine & I was fusing well but everything I did caused horrible pain. Even washing my hair brought on tears at times. I could only spend a few minutes at a time on a computer. The only thing that didn't cause me pain was lying down or standing with my head perfectly straight! There aren't a lot of jobs you can do with that!!! Anyway, I hope my sharing this will help give hope to those who do have a complicated recovery after a "successful" surgery. Don't give up...keep the faith & be open to any suggestions your docs can offer. I almost refused the facet joint injections cause I was tired of procedures & needles with no relief. I was almost resigned to a life of pills & a limited home life in order to keep working. I am so grateful for the prayers of my family, friends & coworkers & also for the docs & nurses who cared for me.

My thoughts & prayers go out to all my fellow spineys.


  • Wow, long time no post. I've thought of you and how you were doing so I'm glad that you checked back in with us and gave us an update.

    Isn't it amazing how long it takes to recover from spine surgery? You've proven that even if you feel like you're not getting better, there are steps you can take besides another surgery that can improve your recovery.

    I'm so glad that you're doing well. Thanks for posting your story as it's a great inspiration to others that are going through what you have.

    Take care and nice to see you again.
  • I haven't seen my doc for the follow up appt yet so he still doesn't know that it worked. I read my op report today & he noted that if I have good relief but my pain comes back he will do the same as you...medial branch nerve block & radiofreq neurotomy. At least they know where the pain is coming from & can provide something with longer lasting relief! Good luck with your procedure :)))
  • Thanks for posting your experience. You must have a very good doctor who's helping you work through your post op pain issues. Good too that you've been able to go back to full time work even though there are lifting restrictions. I hope you continue to heal well.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • We had our surgeries about the same time, remember? I'm sorry to hear that your recovery has been such a hard one! But I am glad to hear that it seems as if you are on the right track now!

    I just recently called to make an appointment with the surgeon. I still have a LOT of tightness in my neck and shoulders and plenty of muscle spasms and burning sensations. I just want to make sure that I am still healing properly, for my own peace of mind.

    I hope you continue on the road to success.

    Hang in there!!
  • That's GREAT news - thanks for posting. It always does my heart good to hear stories of success. Hopefully, your path will continue in that upward direction.

    It does take time to recoup. Sometimes we just don't realize how traumatic certain events are on our bodies and time is definitely a must when it comes to recouperation.

    Big thing, though - don't give up and don't give in. Congratulations!

    Take care and keep us posted, eh?


    (aka - JoAnn!)
  • This is a tad off topic, but relevant to what Jeux just posted. I go to a guy who is trained in acupuncture, Chinese medicine and bodywork. He has patients referred to him from a number of spinal specialists in our city. He has developed an orthopedic program that is a combination of acupuncture and orthopedic body work that he teaches around the country.

    He was invited to attend a seminar put on by one of the companies that manufactures all these various hardware systems used in neck and back fusions. They had set up stations with the various equipment and the mannequins that they use to train doctors on how to use the new hardware and how to do the new procedures. My guy was stunned at how much brute strength it took to drive in some of these spacers, etc. He came away thinking it is amazing that any patient makes it through the procedure without developing some sort of permanent damage from the trauma of surgery! He said you really had to beat the he** out of some of the things to imbed them into the bone or whatever. I was glad I'd already had my surgery before he told me...and I was surprised at how astonished he was that the whole process was so traumatic and violent.

    I guess we should be happy we come out feeling as well as we do!!

    Think happy thoughts ~
  • Thanks for the support everyone! I am very lucky to have great docs. I wish everyone was able to say the same! So far so good...I haven't taken anything but advil & tylenol in almost a week!

    Tina, yes I remember...there were a bunch of us with acdf's in a short time period. I hope your appt goes well. I never expected such trouble recovering after things going so well in the beginning. We get lulled into a false sense of security I guess...lol.
  • Hi! I was told I wouldn't feel normal for a year and then would still be healing for a year after that. I hope I heal faster but am grateful my doctor was so honest with me.

    Being a nurse is a big job. My sister was in ER for about 30 years. I tried to get into nursing but couldn't take the site of blood. I did a lot of volunteer and did go for my EMT. I never worked due to my response to blood. I'm amazed you can work 8 hours!

    Glad that you're healing and hope you much success!
  • Lynn,I hope you are doing well. Everything is still pretty good for me. I just worked 7 of 8 days & the 1 day I didn't work I was on call. Taking advil &/or tylenol a couple times a day for pain with a vicodin thrown in once or twice a week. I can't believe I managed to work so much this past week without feeling terrible. I'm very happy I went through with the facet joint injections...I was so skepical about them!
  • I'm so glad you've found something that is helping. I pray it continues to help you heal and lead the life you want to lead. I can't believe how much these issues can set us back.

    All the best,
    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
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